June 10, 2016

Water washes residue left behind, clearing a way for something to take its place.  Rain clears away pollution to give us the blue skies and landscapes we only see in our dreams and that we thought were long in the past before disease, corruption, large chains + major corporations took over our lives -- more importantly, the states we live + work in.  Now, it doesn't have to be this way.  As a community, we can stand up and fight for what we believe in.  We can say the heck with the "man" and showcase our first amendment rights -- rights granted to each and everyone one of us born in the United States of America.  Although, going off topic here a bit, freedom of speech isn't exactly freedom of speech now is it?  Freedom of speech has limitations, yet it shouldn't if you're free to speak about whatever issue you want. At any rate, people form and start groups for a reason -- to let their voice be heard, to start controversy and stir emotions to either fight an issue that is wrong, fight an issue that desperately needs to be changed or stand together as one to fight from allowing anything to change or disrupt a community where the people, businesses and non-profit organizations have fought hard since day one to keep control of.  

Animation created by Hector Raul Primero (Is this what Roosevelt Row will look like come 2017-2018)?

I want to talk about our influence to Roosevelt Row and the Evans-Churchill neighborhood since we flew in on July 23rd, 2012.  We've made a major impact on supplying some of Arizona's best coffee & best tea and that was our goal since day one.  But more importantly, we value our customers every single day.  We've been quite repetitive in stating this, but without them, we don't exist, we don't flourish, we don't grow and we certainly don't get they overall respect we deserve from various coffeehouses across the state by doing what we do.  It truly means the world to us knowing we're serving our community one fresh cup of pour over coffee and loose leaf tea at a time.  For the vast majority of our clientele, that will NEVER change and we're happy about that.  

However, as Bob Dylan's lyrics ring in our head, "the times they are a changin' ".  Why do we agree?  Well, the latest developments of Roosevelt Row have hit most of us the hardest the last few weeks with news that demolition is slated for 222 East Roosevelt Street (currently the Green Haus Boutique & Gallery) from purchaser, Baron Properties.  There's also been ongoing discussions that local builder, Wood Partners, is looking into purchasing the Canvas Corner off of 3rd Street and Roosevelt, including the dirt lots on the northeast section of Canvas, including the house where Bodega 420 once resided, now a architectural firm.  But word has it they could be dropping the project entirely due to the widespread commotion and outrage of our community.  Disappointingly, it's been rumored that the owner of the Canvas Corner and empty lots might decide to demolish the structures on their own and then sell to an interested third party.

Photo courtesy of PHXTaco.com (Artist + Muralist, Lauren Lee's Three Birds on GreenHaus's east wall)

The initial plan is to build high-rise condos/apartments, demolishing the Canvas Corner (where the new Paz Cantina is) and constructing monstrosities that don't belong in Roosevelt Row.  One can argue that change is good and brings more people and business to Roosevelt Row.  Well, you'd be right.  This is true.  But as far as we know, Wood Partners want to build what they want to build without any retail possibilities or proper design insight from the neighborhood representatives and small business owners, which don't fit in nor have the charm, character + personality that makes RoRo what it's been a decade ago to our present day.  Roosevelt Row doesn't want nor does it need chain establishments.  This community is solely about entrepreneurial spirit, small business and local art -- not an expansion to going corporate.  When you think "arts district" -- what's the last thing you think of?  A chain or inaccurate design that is associated with it.   

Photograph courtesy of Phoenix New Times (this was years ago before Canvas Corner was renovated in 2014 -- could this be the end again)?

Obviously, this is a far cry from the articles and press that have been written in regards to the passion we all share about maintaining Roosevelt Row and its creativity, but the more and more press that is written can only spark the interest of not only more local Phoenicians, but more importantly, an outcry of support of saving this community from becoming something it's not.  Write letters, write strong convictions of your passion for this community and what we strive to be and become -- small, successful, creative businesses coming together in unity to stand up for what's moral and right to downtown Phoenix and our society.  Will Wood Properties take the time to listen to us -- will they hear us out on what we would like as local citizens, businesses and artists?  Or will they look the other way and ignore us?  The time is NOW.  Speak.  Speak now or watch Roosevelt Row slowly turn into Corporate Row because if you don't, it surely will.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Carroll (will this amazing sign created by local artists remain or slowly turn into Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, etc)?  

Only time will tell.  We're hoping this doesn't become the fate of Roosevelt Row years from now.